Europol Dismantles Major Horse-Meat Trading Operation
Europol, together with Spain’s Guardia Civil, has dismantled what it describes as an "organised crime group that was trading horse-meat in Europe that was unfit for human consumption".
The operation was carried out alongside authorities in Belgium, France, Italy, Portugal, Romania, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, Europol reported, with some 65 individuals in Spain arrested and charged for a number of crimes.
The discovery is related to the 2013 horse-meat scandal, in which Irish health authorities discovered the presence of meat not suitable for human consumption in beefburgers – a move that kick-started a European-wide investigation and a search for a Dutch citizen thought to be involved in a tainted-meat operation.
Last year, Spain’s Guardia Civil initiated Operation Gazel, after unusual behaviour was detected in horse-meat markets.
According to Europol, the authorities "detected a scam whereby horses in bad shape, too old, or simply labelled as 'not suitable for consumption' were being slaughtered in two different slaughterhouses".
The meat from these horses was then exported to Belgium, one of the biggest horse-meat exporters in the EU.
"During the investigation, Guardia Civil was able to locate the Dutch businessman related to the Irish case of the beefburgers containing horse meat, in Calpe, Alicante," Europol said. "From there, he led the activities of the organisation, putting his most trusted men in charge in every country affected by the scam.
"Investigators concluded that the Spanish element of this organisation was a small part of the whole European structure controlled by the Dutch suspect. The arrest of the leader of the criminal group was carried out in Belgium."
© 2017 European Supermarket Magazine – your source for the latest retail news. Article by Stephen Wynne-Jones. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: The European Supermarket Magazine.